Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland
The State of the Steelers
The Steelers appear to have found their QB in 2022! Kenny Pickett started slowly, but as the season progressed, he established himself as a steady presence. Over the last 4 to 5 games last year, Pickett looked like a top-20 QB; he avoided costly mistakes and led four game-winning drives. While it remains to be seen if Pickett can become elite and lead the Steelers to the top tier of the AFC, he showed enough to convince the front office that they can build around Pickett and truly take the best player available in Round 1. If the Men of Steel have indeed found their long-term signal caller, combining him with outstanding head coach Mike Tomlin for years to come is bad news for the rest of the AFC.
DVOA Offense: 18th (18th pass, 15th run)
DVOA Defense: 12th (19th pass, 6th pass)
Courtesy of Football Outsiders
As you can see, the Steelers could be better passing the ball and stopping the pass. They have nice receivers with the above average Diontae Johnson and future star George Pickens on the outside. With Najee Harris and Pat Freiermuth locked in at running back and tight end, respectively, the Steelers are pretty set at offensive skill positions.
BehindTheSteelCurtain.com sums it up well:
The Steelers are in the process of rebuilding their offensive line. They signed Eagles’ free-agents Nate Herbig and Issaac Seumalo over the past months. Surely two solid acquisitions, but there’s lots more work to be done here.
And did you know? Le’Raven Clark is their backup right tackle! Yeesh. You can bet Pittsburgh will be hoping for a strong offensive tackle to fall in their lap at #17.
In terms of pass defenders, Pittsburgh is vulnerable at CB both in the intermediate and long-term. They lost strong starter Cameron Sutton to the Lions in free agency but were able to backfill with Patrick Peterson. The latter is a competent to above-average corner entering his age-33 season, but the Black and Yellow need to add talent and youth on the outside.
The Draft Setup
The Steelers will surely be looking for an offensive tackle in the first, but the top four offensive tackles are all off the board in this mock.
Bijan Robinson is sticking out like a sore thumb here as the Steelers stare down the barrel of #17. While this is an extremely tempting scenario for Omar Khan in his first draft as the Steelers GM—imagine Kenny Pickett handing off and throwing check downs to the beastly Robinson!—this is an organization built on doing the smart thing. As we all know, they have not had losing season since 2003, which is before the Tomlin era began. Not to mention, they already burned a first-rounder on Alabama running back Najee Harris in 2021 and are likely regretting that decision. So, the Steelers just can’t bring themselves to take Bijan Robinson here.
In this exercise, CB1 (Christian Gonzalez), CB2 (Devon Witherspoon), and CB3 (Joey Porter Jr.) are all gone. The Steelers are therefore forced to “settle” for CB4, Maryland Terrapin Deonte Banks. While this is certainly not a big-name, splashy pick, the Steelers make the smart move to solidify their defensive backfield for years to come. Interestingly, there’s significant buzz among draftniks about Joey Porter falling down and Deonte Banks ascending draft boards, so it will be interesting to see whose name is called first on April 27th. It’s worth noting that Pittsburgh did host Banks on a top-30 visit.
Deonte Banks is a CB prospect in the 2023 draft class. He scored a 10.00 RAS out of a possible 10.00. This ranked 2 out of 2183 CB from 1987 to 2023.— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) April 8, 2023
Note that he shows as 10.00, but is ranked 2. That's due to rounding and high volume at CB.https://t.co/ARjCreFH2k #RAS pic.twitter.com/t2nkFf2p2F
Deonte Banks is special athletically. His relative athletic score (RAS) placed him at #2 out of 2171 cornerbacks at the combine since 1987. That’s pretty nuts. His spider chart is equally impressive (courtesy of MockDraftable.com):
Deonte Banks has good size and is extremely fast. You may recall that people were talking effusively about Eagles defensive tackle Jordan Davis’ generational athleticism in the same way after the 2022 combine with his RAS. It’s fair to wonder—do these combine athleticism numbers mean anything or are we all just getting Mamula’d here? Well, as Fran Duffy likes to say, “The eye in the sky don’t lie.”
Turn on the tape, and you will see:
- A willing and aggressive tackler. Banks does an outstanding job of finishing through the ball carrier.
- Elite speed, or “makeup” speed.
- When pursuing ball carriers on screen passes or bubble screens, he’s pretty deadly
- Very strong ball skills
- Banks is rarely out of position
On tape, Banks’ blazing speed jumps out. He has what they call “makeup” speed in the NFL, where the corner can be beat when the ball is released, but is still able to kick into an extra gear to meet the receiver at the ball. You may remember Ronald Darby having success early in his career thanks in part to his tremendous makeup speed. Banks’ positional awareness, acceleration, top-end speed, and strong ball skills, allow him to win late in the down. The numbers back it up:
Percentage of 1st downs/TDs allowed in primary coverage.— Andrew Russell (@Andrew_Russell7) April 5, 2023
1. Devon Witherspoon - 20.8%
2. Emmanuel Forbes - 23.3%
3. Deonte Banks - 26.6%
4. Cam Smith - 31.4%
5. Christian Gonzalez - 32.8%
6. Joey Porter Jr - 34.1%
Forbes weight is holding him back from being talked about more.
Deonte Banks is right up there with the big names in terms of shut-down ability.
Summary and Team Outlook
Deonte Banks projects as a CB1 in the NFL. For a team needing quality defensive backs as the Steelers do, he is a great investment at #17. If the Pittsburgh can protect Kenny Pickett and get improved play from their secondary, they will be a threat to make the playoffs and maybe win a postseason game next year. That scenario would be welcomed by the second-greatest fanbase in the NFL. Go Birds!
Shoutout to @Dr.Skoot on BehindTheSteelCurtain for help researching this article.
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2023 BGN Mock Draft Order
1) Panthers (pheebthegoose): QB Bryce Young
2) Texans (Phoenix X Minimus): QB C.J. Stroud
3) Cardinals (alwaysaphillyfan): EDGE Will Anderson
4) Colts (eaglenomics): QB Anthony Richardson
5) Seahawks (The Player Formerly Known as Mousecop): DT Jalen Carter
6) Lions (Sam2TheMaximum): DE Tyree Wilson
7) Raiders (joey2arms): OT Paris Johnson Jr.
8) Falcons (Kephas): CB Christian Gonzalez
9) Bears (chewy wellington): OT Peter Skoronski
10) Eagles (Philly21): CB Devon Witherspoon
11) Titans (RachAttack): WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba
12) Texans (Domonate): WR Quentin Johnston
13) Jets (JawnJam): OT Broderick Jones
14) Patriots (Amish Eagle Lion): CB Joey Porter Jr.
15) Packers (bdawk4ever): QB Will Levis
16) Commanders (the dog did it): OT Darnell Wright
17) Steelers (Dr.MidnightGreen): CB Deonte Banks
18) Lions (DreadPirateRocco)
19) Buccaneers (Neil Dutton)
20) Seahawks (wardbell92)
21) Chargers (Brendanekstrom)
22) Ravens (Rollinpin)
23) Vikings (FierceDisc65)
24) Jaguars (Leo Bedio)
25) Giants (dkays)
26) Cowboys (roberticus01)
27) Bills (EHyungNim)
28) Bengals (mainmanham)
29) Saints (RiverCityEagle)
30) Eagles (ablesser88)
31) Chiefs (Hoosinole)
Now it’s time for you to vote for who YOU think should be selected in the 2023 BGN Community Consensus Mock Draft.
Who should the Steelers select at No. 17 overall?
This poll is closed
CB Deonte Banks
CB Cam Smith
DB Brian Branch
OT Anton Harrison
OL O’Cyrus Torrence
DE Lukas Van Ness
DT Bryan Breese
DT Calijah Kancey
WR Quentin Johnston
WR Jordan Addison
1) Panthers: QB C.J. Stroud
2) Texans: QB Bryce Young
3) Cardinals: EDGE Will Anderson
4) Colts: QB Anthony Richardson
5) Seahawks: DT Jalen Carter
6) Lions: DE Tyree Wilson
7) Raiders: OT Paris Johnson Jr.
8) Falcons: CB Christian Gonzalez
9) Bears: OT Peter Skoronski
10) Eagles: CB Devon Witherspoon
11) Titans: WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba
12) Texans: DE Myles Murphy
13) Jets: OT Broderick Jones
14) Patriots: CB Joey Porter Jr.
15) Packers: DE Nolan Smith
16) Commanders: OT Darnell Wright